One of the reasons I like to discuss ‘mistakes’ people make with health, weight loss & nutrition – is because there is a disproportionate ratio of bad to good information on the topic of weight loss and therefore, a lot of good people make honest mistakes on their journey.
It’s also my professional responsibility to debunk weight loss nonsense – especially the more influential ideas & beliefs that are faulty and lead to years of people struggling unnecessarily.
Health & wellness is not limited to food & exercise – without taking your mindset (psychology, values & attitude) into consideration, your view of health/wellness is incomplete and your ability to get permanent results are shot down.
Even if someone has a great attitude, can be intelligent, sets goals and has social support – there are still many obstacles people face when it comes to ‘what to believe’ about weight loss.
So here are some common mindtraps (thought or belief mistakes) people make and of course, their solutions so you can get fantastic results…
Note – I removed the ‘Fitness Industry Faux Pas’ so I could create a new blog post specific for the industry.
Stop Trying So Hard
The truth is getting healthy & losing weight is rather easy, but most make it way too hard. If you have not been consistent or struggled with one thing or another, first thing to do is relax. Second, get out of your own way.
Think dining, not dieting. Think ‘eat food’, not ‘reduce calories’.
You don’t need to workout hard or ‘never miss a workout’. That neurotic attitude about exercise is unhealthy and unnecessary. You wont get fat from missing a workout, you will get fat from your diet & lifestyle though.
Simply look at your schedule – what days and times can you exercise?
When will you go shopping and prepare food/meals?
Put it down in your calendar and move forward focusing on the benefits that come from this lifestyle.
When you try too hard, you end up stressed…
Get to bed on time, eat real food (especially butter and coconut oil), do a little exercise and have some creative outlet.
Spend as much time outdoors as possible.
Keep it simple and enjoy the process.
Think ‘a little exercise a few days a week’, not ‘all or nothing.’
Calories – Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow
Obsession with dieting, reducing calories and trying to micro-manage food portions (either counting calories or using some obnoxiously unnatural points system favored by overweight ‘weight watchers’) is not healthy. It’s also a faulty method, not a science.
Some of my advanced training friends, Paleo peeps, athletes and type A clients enjoy this analytical work, but I am speaking of beginners and weight loss people here and specifically REDUCING CALORIES to lose weight, also known as dieting.
You want to know why your coworker/sister/ex-girlfriend (or whoever) is obsessed with dieting and neurotic about not missing that cardio class? Because dieting, skipping meals or eating too few calories puts you in a starvation physiology known as semi-starvation neurosis.
What is Semi-Starvation Neurosis?
Here is what you get for free when you subscribe to the popular dieting method of restricting calories: depression, anxiety, hunger, cravings, weakness, lack of drive, decreased ability to feel happiness, osteoporosis, decreased muscle mass, dizziness, fatigue, muscle soreness, hair loss, reduced coordination, hypotension, poor wound healing and more.
All this can be yours by dieting and reducing your food to about 1800 calories per day.
No, this is not an flier for Tracy Anderson’s Baby Food Diet.
If you want to read more about semi-starvation neurosis and one of the most important studies ever done on the topic of how diets destroy metabolism, be sure to check out 180 Degree Health blog by Matt Stone – by far one of the best blogs on nutrition.
Keep Context in mind…
According to The World Health Organization (WHO): Nearly 30% of humanity – infants, children, adolescents, adults and older persons in the developing world – are currently suffering from one or more of the multiple forms of malnutrition. There are nearly 195 million children suffering from malnutrition across the globe.
Want to do something about it? Check out Doctors Without Borders www.starvedforattention.org
The WHO considers 2100 calories the standard for malnutrition and starvation
Compare that with the Biggest Loser diet, endorsed by WebMd, that recommends 1200, 1500 and 1800 calorie diets.
Or Tracy Anderson who is a dancer (not a health/fitness professional) & pseudo-celebrity recommends a 500 calorie a day baby food diet to get a ‘teeny, tiny body.’
In my 16 years in this industry, I have yet to meet one overweight person who eats too much. Yeah, I know, in the Midwest or down south this may be true, but these people aren’t overweight because they eat too much, they eat too much because they are overweight.
Ok, actually there is one, and he only ate too much after years of trying EVERY freaking diet out there. We’ve been working together for about a year and now eats better quality food, does ZERO cardio, does NOT DIET and has already lost 100 pounds.
- Stop obsessing and stressing and viewing mealtime like a math class.
- Eat real food. Eat to appetite. Eat some butter and coconut oil.
- Pay attention to how you feel so you’ll know when you’ve had enough.
- Keep a food journal so you can see how your body responds to certain foods.
- Get more sleep and get in a 15-minute power nap whenever you can.
Think food, not numbers. Think eating, not dieting. Think sleeping, not cheating.
Expect the Best … or Not.
We all have stress – so don’t make managing your health another stressor. Stress comes from several sources, but a big one is from having unrealistic expectations.
Most women seeking for weight loss unfortunately read popular magazines and watch TV, the problem with this is that it sets up unrealistic expectations of ‘skinny’ and a neurotic obsession to ‘work out hard’.
Get Real – the culture we live in promotes an anorectic standard of beauty, a sick obsession with youth, the pursuit of quick fix gimmicks & pressure to conform.
Take your focus off of mainstream media ESPECIALLY POPULAR WOMEN’S FITNESS MAGAZINES and the human waste project known as ‘Reality TV’ and instead spend your energy learning from real experts who have thoughtful, evidence-based books, blogs or programs.
This is true for most women’s fitness and pop/celebrity culture magazines – you know, the ones that line the aisle as we are waiting to check out at CVS, Duane Reade, Whole Foods, etc. Occasionally there will be a random article from a real expert, but when it’s buried beneath tons of ads and stories from journalists and editors (who are not experts), then you can understand why these magazines are wack (slang for ‘garbage’).
Is Dieting Advice From Magazines Helpful or Harmful?
If you want to understand health & wellness, you’ll have to use your intelligence and think logically, not immerse your mind in processed culture. This is a great source of stress and unrealistic expectations and for many.
“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.”
Don’t compare yourself to anyone and manage your expectations – how long have you been overweight, had an eating disorder or disordered eating habits or haven’t had a good night’s sleep? Be honest and realistic with yourself, set some goals and enjoy the process and you will not end up disappointed.
Set realistic goals and socialize with excellent people who either already achieved or are in pursuit of similar health goals. Don’t try to be an overnight success – 95% of the people who lose weight gain more weight back after their short term diet is over. You don’t hear about that part of the equation in the media.
Think healthy cultures, not trendy cultures.
Many people have damaged their metabolism form years of dieting – these people will require more time & patience getting healthy. The priorities are radically different and the rules for ‘Fat Loss’ do not apply to those with a hormonal imbalance. This represents a good majority of women I work with and probably a lot of women you know.
If you don’t understand this, you’ll spend more years struggling and disappointed. The priority for you is NOT exercise, but rather healing the body and restoring balance to your metabolism. This is the purpose of my Metabolic Makeover program.
The greatest challenge for these people is although they have a genuine desire to lose body fat, they also have this sense of desperation and a faulty belief that cardio, cardio kickboxing, Spinning and circuit training is what they should do. Strength & cardio exercise stress an already stressed body.
When you haven’t felt well for awhile, and you cant lose weight, your body needs to rest. Come to the gym almost any day and you will see me teaching restorative exercise, mind-body techniques and going over goal setting/achieving and reviewing food journals with many clients. When you get healthy, you will be able to do strength, conditioning or interval training, but for now they make for a more miserable client.
‘Short term gratification costs. Long term vision pays’ Dr. John Demartini
Think ‘healing the body’, not ‘feeling the burn’.
Feedback, Not Failure
If you have struggled trying to lose weight, you are not alone – in fact, you make up the majority. If you fell off the wagon, don’t sweat it. Look at whatever you have done and see what worked and what didn’t work. Make a list of what worked.
What didn’t work is feedback teaching you what not to do and gives you clues as where to go next.
Write out a list of 200 benefits you will receive from losing weight – go through all areas of life and find the benefits so you have some incentive to keep going. If you fell off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up.
We all struggle and have challenges one way or another. Find the lesson, apply it & keep going now that you are smarter and more experienced.
Think feedback, not failure.
Ironically, some people will judge me for being judgmental and dismiss me for promoting ‘’negative energy’ when I discuss this critical topics that NEED TO BE DISCUSSED.
Many people, including my ‘spiritual’ friends will say things like ‘you are also not perfect, so why are you judging and creating more negativity’ or my religious peeps will judge me and say things like ‘he who is without sin, cast the first blah blah blah’
Do not be fooled! This is code language for ‘please don’t speak, your freaking me out and I prefer to not deal with such serious issues.’
Some people believe that when I criticize or debunk popular garbage, that it’s somehow ‘unprofessional.’ So, its cool for ‘fitness celebrities’ to sell crap, deceive people, teach the public to starve themselves and encourage a pathological obsession with being skinny to the detriment of their well-being – but if I speak out against this, its unprofessional?
The problem with these attitudes and addiction to positive thinking is that they give a free pass to fitness ‘experts’ who deceptively promote unhealthy, obsessive behaviors that damage metabolism.
Stay silent and these people & programs grow in popularity deluding the people, especially children. Not addressing serious problems that are negatively affecting the health & well-being of women & children make one complicit, not spiritual.
Is Dieting and Celebrity Worship Really a Problem?
- 80% of fourth-grade girls are dieting
- Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives
- 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner
- 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat
Jeffrey Zaslow, an American author, journalist, columnist for The Wall Street Journal and coauthor of “The Last Lecture” (with Randy Pausch) wanted to find out if that startling 80% statistic was a California oddity, or had America’s obsession with slimness reached the 60-pound weight class?
More than half of the 9-year-old girls he surveyed said they were dieting, and 75% (even the skinniest ones) said they weighed too much.
‘Those girls I interviewed are 32 and 33 years old now, and when I got back in touch with some of them last week, they said that they and their peers have never escaped society’s obsession with body image. While none of them descended into eating disorders, some told stories of damaging diets and serious self-esteem issues regarding their weight.’
In conclusion, if you want to get healthy and lose weight permanently – DO NOT DIET and shift your paradigm. Change your brain and think outside the box.In order for any society to grow, there needs to be some sort of challenge.
Remember, friends don’t let friends restrict calories.
Up next, Celebrity Death Match … I will promote female fitness/nutrition experts who don’t diet and eat real food, including saturated fat and who I would pay good money to see kick some fitness celebrity ass.
They Starved So That Others Be Better Fed: Remembering Ancel Keys and the Minnesota Experiment
Leah M. Kalm and Richard D. Semba. The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
Journal of Nutrition http://jn.nutrition.org/content/135/6/1347.full
Eating Disorders, Dieting & Wall Street Journal Article